Expressing dismay over misreading the court proceedings in money laundering and fake bank accounts case on Monday Supreme Court asked federal government to reconsider its decision regarding placing names of 172 individuals on the Exit Control List.
Resuming the hearing of the matter, a two-member bench led by the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also warned that Supreme Court shall shun any effort of ‘Governor Rule’ in Sindh. During last week, the Supreme Court has issued directives to all 172 individuals including former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, incumbent Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and some ministers of the Sindh Cabinet to submit reply in the matter in response to Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report that alleged all the individuals were involved in money laundering or fake accounts case.
However, the JIT head Ahsan Sadiq, Additional Director General Economic, Crime Wing of the FIA sent a letter to federal government to place names of all the individuals on the ECL.
At the outset of the proceedings Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed, “ I am surprised that how name of a sitting chief minister of the second largest province be placed on the ECL”. He said the court didn’t ask to anybody to place names of such individuals on no-fly list.
Farooq H. Naek, counsel for Asif Ali Zardari showed inability to represent Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur before the court in the current matter on the grounds that the JIT has also asked in the report to file reference against him. He submitted that Asif Ali Zardari was in mental distress as his name was placed in the ECL.
Granting one week time to file reply on behalf of his clients, the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said while addressing to Farooq H. Naek, “ We will not allow you to withdraw representation – we didn’t comment over the JIT report so far – you are officer of the court – Neither it is proud nor show up but one thing is clear that we will do justice – Let your client (Zardari) to assure that if there is something wrong in this matter then he should face the music otherwise nothing would be happen against him”.
Prohibiting ministers and opposition leaders from public discussion regarding fake accounts case the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also warned the media to refrain from commenting on the matter which is sub-judice.
While addressing to State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, “ Communicate to your elders that court didn’t take decisions on behalf of anybody”. Chief Justice further said that the court shall not allow to derail democracy in the country.
While observing in the context of recent rumors of ‘Governor Rule’ in Sindh Chief Justice categorically said that nobody would be allowed to violate constitution and any order of ‘Governor Rule’ in Sindh would be set aside in minutes.
Attorney General for Pakistan assured the bench that no any effort is being done to impose ‘Governor Rule’ in Sindh and alleged, “ Its just media hype” whereas Afridi assured the bench that government has nothing to do with any unconstitutional move.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that Supreme Court has just asked the 172 individuals to submit their replies but federal cabinet placed their names on the ECL to which Attorney General submitted that on the recommendation of JIT head names of all the individual were placed on no-fly list.
Admitting before the bench, Ahsan Sadiq submitted that he recommended name of the individuals for ECL without considering their status but role in money laundering and fake bank accounts.
Reprimanding to Ahsan Sadiq, the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that in which capacity Sadiq recommended individuals name for ECL, adding in next time Sadiq may give recommendations to place names of the Chairman NAB or Chief Justice of Pakistan on ECL.
Chief Justice said placing someone name on the ECL is a stigma, adding the officer should take care of the matter as it is a general inquiry and the JIT is supposed to submit report before the court which would have to decide the next course of action.
Terming removal of name from ECL the government privilege, the Chief Justice said in short order that if Chief Minister Sindh or any other minister whose name has been placed in ECL is intended to proceed abroad before next federal cabinet meeting, can approach the Supreme Court for remedy.
The JIT counsel Faisal Siddiqui informed that the it is outside the authority of the JIT to recommend someone for arrest or to suggest that a corruption reference is filed against them.
In pursuance of the court directives, CEO of the Bahria group Malik Riaz appeared before the court. Chief Justice asked Malik Riaz to deposit Rs500 billion instead of Rs1000 billion then he would be given relief in cases of Bahira town Karachi and others . Chief Justice also observed that Malik Riaz name was everywhere in the cases. Responding to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarks that Malik Riaz has important role in governments Riaz said, “Swear of Allah he has nothing to do with governments business”. The bench hinted at to send Malik Riaz matter to the National Accountability Bureau.
Counsel for Nimar Majeed of Omni group was also present in the court room who informed the court that his client was in Karachi and ready to pay outstanding loan to National Bank of Pakistan till March 2019. Chief Justice observed that as to why court should not issue order to arrest Nimar Majeed.
Later, hearing of the matter was adjourned for a week.
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